Hijabi of the Month June - Seeba Chaachouh
Posted on June 16, 2014
This month's HOTM is Seeba Chaachouh who was nominated by her sister Roba!
My name is Seeba Chaachouh and I'm Lebanese born in Quebec, Canada. Lebanon runs in my blood. Despite being away from my homeland for 19 years, it has a special place in my heart. I also love Quebec and call it my second home after Lebanon. I grew up with an amazing and loving family that supports and encourages me. I believe I had a chance not everyone living abroad has; going to an Islamic school for around 12 years. In fact, this school is my second home, as I have spent my childhood and teenage years studying there. We were given religion courses every year and taught the basics of Islam, along with memorizing various Surat from the Quran. I learned to fear God, pray, fast and act in a modest way. I grew up attached to Islam and never gave up on my principles even after graduating.
I enjoy reading and writing the most. Writing a novel is one of my dreams. I value nature and love to travel all around the world. I am currently a first year university student, which, I believe, is one of my most important achievements. I study Journalism and Political Science. In addition, I have written for my Cegep’s (General and Vocational College) newspaper and another community newspaper in Montreal. I enjoy participating in all kinds of activities in College and love to meet new people. I am truly honored to be nominated as Hijabi of The Month. You can follow me on instagram @seeba_ch.
1) When did you start wearing hijab? Tell us a little about your journey.
I started wearing hijab around two months after I turned 18. I still remember the exact date because it is a very special day to me. It was on June 15, 2013. I have been hijabi for a year now. I believe it is a blessing. I wore the hijab for an entire year when I was 12 years old. I randomly took this decision only because I wanted to copy hijabis in my community. However, I eventually ended up removing it because I was a child and totally irresponsible. At the time, I did not value hijab and wasn’t convinced that I should keep wearing it. However, I kept this thought to myself until one day I decided to let it all out. I got advice that if I do not like the hijab, there is no point in wearing it. Therefore, I immediately removed it.
When I turned 17, I began thinking about wearing the hijab again. I searched on the Internet different hijab styles and hijab friendly clothes without telling anyone. I began thinking almost every night about this idea of wearing the hijab again, but I was afraid and hesitant. During this period, I became more attached to Islam and started to learn more about our beautiful religion by myself through books and in school as well. Therefore, I began to value the hijab more and more every day. However, I was afraid to commit the same mistake over again. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t wear the hijab if I am not totally convinced. I kept this thought in mind until a while later my older sister wore the hijab. I felt happy for her but also a little jealous because I wanted to wear the hijab as well but had no courage to do so. I told my sister one day, “You already know I want to wear the hijab and now is the time.” She told my mother and they both did not take me seriously. One day, after I finished my second semester in Cegep, I put a hijab on and went for a walk with my friend. I was convinced it is the right thing to do. I felt happy, secure, blessed and most importantly, I understood the definition of modesty.
2) The proposed Quebec Charter of Values bill ultimately died, but it definitely raised a lot of controversy. Living in Quebec, tells us what it was like and any personal experiences you may have encountered.
We started to hear about the Charter of Quebec Values mostly in September 2013 until April 7th, after the Quebec elections. This discriminatory charter involved banning ostentatious religious symbols, such as the Islamic headgear, kippas, turbans and huge crosses. It targeted minorities in Quebec, however, it was mostly harmful for Muslim women. It was the rise of Islamophobia all over again. Islamophobia. We all feared it. I thought to myself if this charter passed, I would leave Quebec for good. During this period, many hijabis experienced aggressiveness and verbal abuse. We were asked to go back to our countries or to respect their values and tradition by forgetting our religion. We were strongly united and protested against the charter on many occasions. The one thing that shocked me the most was Canadian people’s support for hijabi women. I would be walking around Cegep and a random person would stop to tell me to, “stay strong” or “do not give up on your hijab, we all support you.” This racist charter made me admire Quebec and its people rather than hate them because I knew that there were much more people that were against discrimination than the opposite. I understood that only ignorance made some individuals support this kind of charter. All I could do is hope that one day, they would understand our religion and the values of the hijab for Muslims. I haven’t experienced anything harsh besides the uncomfortable stares of people in public transports.
The Charter of Quebec Values eventually came to an end on April 7th after the Quebec population made their voice and choice clear during the Quebec Elections. The victory of the Liberal party, which opposed the charter, made it clear that Quebecers are against discrimination and support the freedom of choice of each individual. I can currently go out with my hijab without any fear of having someone follow me to pull my hijab off or verbally harm me.
3) What is one quote or motto you live by?
“Be like the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it.” – Imam Ali (as)
4) What/Who was a positive influence you had growing up?
The most positive influence I had growing up is my family. I heard stories about how hard my grandparents worked in order to offer their children a good education. I heard about my aunts and uncles who worked hard as well in order to achieve their goals in life during hard conditions and war in Lebanon. I also witnessed my parent’s hard work for 19 years in order to make my wishes come true. This is enough for me to believe that they are the most positive influence I had growing up and will ever have.
5) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
To anyone struggling with hijab, on any level, try to support the struggle because it is worth it. Hijab is a blessing to all Muslim women. Personally, wearing the hijab made me happy and I am ready to support anything harmful on a social level but I would never give up on my hijab. Hijab is modesty. Hijab is a Muslim woman’s most powerful weapon. Hijab is also beauty. Hijab is not oppressive, it is freedom. Nowadays, you can be hijabi, as well as fashionable and classy. You can wear whatever clothes you want and do what you desire to do in society. Hijab is a blessing and nobody gives up on a blessing.
Is there someone you'd like to nominate for Hijabi of the Month? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org!